The novels were chosen by a panel of judges chaired by Peter Stothard, editor of the Times Literary Supplement.
The nominated works are Tan Twan Eng's "The Garden of Evening Mists," Deborah Levy's "Swimming Home (and Other Stories)," Hilary Mantel's "Bring up the Bodies," Alison Moore's "The Lighthouse," Will Self's "Umbrella" and Jeet Thayil's "Narcopolis."
"After re-reading an extraordinary long-list of 12, it was the pure power of prose that settled most debates," Stothard said in a statement. "We loved the shock of language shown in so many different ways and were exhilarated by the vigor and vividly defined values in the six books that we chose -- and in the visible confidence of the novel's place in forming our words and ideas."
The winner of the 2012 prize will be announced at a dinner at London's Guildhall Oct. 16. The ceremony is to air on the BBC.
Each of the six shortlisted writers will be awarded $4,000 and a specially commissioned hand-bound edition of his/her book. The winner will receive an additional $80,000.
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